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Reflections on Immigrant Life and the American Dream by a New Citizen

 Buenos días estudiantes de sexto grado. Mi nombre es Audelina Barrios, and I am a former student of Fuller Middle School. Soy de Guatemala, y viví mis primeros trece años de mi vida en mi tierra natal, pero desafortunadamente perdí a mis padres cuando tenía 12 años. Mi hermano y yo fuimos huérfanos por un año hasta que tomamos la decisión de empezar nuestro viaje hacia los United States to meet our oldest siblings. 

In August of 2014 we finally arrived in the land of our dreams, the United States. During our first 4 months in the US, we lived in New Jersey with my oldest sister, Rosa, and went to a school where ESL didn't even exist. I was paired up with the only Latino in the school y sin saber una palabra en inglés. I felt like an outsider because I had no other friends and like I wasn't even part of the school system. 

In January 2015 my older brother Francisco and his wife, Mae, adopted us and we moved to Framingham. My first school in Framingham was Fuller Middle School. Back then, I never would have thought that I would be standing before you today sharing my story.

Fuller was the school that inspired me because I was able to make friends and get help from my teachers. I got to know more people from Guatemala, Honduras, El Savador, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, and it was no longer just me eating alone in the cafeteria. In New Jersey, during lunch time I always went to the nurse’s office during the lunch period. But in Framingham, I found mi gente. The teachers inspired me to learn English and have a goal in life. My mentality began to change and I could see a future here. Tuve el sueño Americano and many of my teachers were part of my road to attaining the American dream. 

After one year at Fuller, my adopted mom moved me to Cameron Middle School, because she was starting an ESL program there, and she made me go, too. I was once again the only English learner in my grade. That year was SO HARD, but my English skills developed, and everyday it got a little bit easier. But looking back, I think it would have been even easier if I had the support of even one native English speaker as a friend. By the time I got to high school, I had almost learned English fluently, and so I passed my ACCESS test when I was a freshman. In three short years I became fluent in English. 

I graduated from FHS in 2020, after having survived COVID and with my infant son in my arms. I have faced many obstacles on the road to my American dream, but I have never given up. To be an immigrant in this country means to fight for a better future, and I’m still fighting and I’m still standing. 

On March 1st, I became a US citizen. I am the first one in my family to become a US citizen. As immigrants we have a lot to overcome: we have to learn a new language and a new country. Some of us are alone, or reuniting with family for the first time after many years. We have survived traumatic experiences in our own country, maybe traumatic experiences getting to this country, and we have to overcome our obstacles and keep going, or we are not going to gain anything. 

Just like my favorite teacher told me one day when I was having a really hard time in seventh grade and I wanted to give up. “Growing is hard and that’s okay.” 

Ese mismo mensaje les dejaré en su pensar que cada vez que algo se vea o sea difícil recuerden que todo tiene un propósito y sigan luchando por sus metas que nadie les diga que no pueden. Porque si venimos a este país es para cumplir nuestro sueño americano. Que asimismo triunfemos y hagamos a nuestros padres orgullosos de nuestros éxitos.  


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